SGA holds student town hall regarding the coronavirus


SGA executive board members: Sophia Marshall and Austin Calvo (top), Barbora Hriňáková and Jamien Jean-Baptiste (bottom)

Brooke Reilly

The Student Government Association is still in action as the board is working remotely to hear student concerns. The board held a virtual town hall via Zoom on Tuesday, March 31 to answer any student questions regarding COVID-19.

“Students who had questions and concerns were able to voice them in a productive outlet, and for the most part, we were able to address those concerns and answer some of those questions,” SGA Vice President for Public Relations Jamien Jean-Baptiste said.

SGA executives answered questions that were sent through the chat (Q&A) function on Zoom. The board includes President Austin Calvo, Vice President Sophia Marshall, Vice President for Finance Barbora Hriňáková and Jean-Baptiste. 

The conversation mostly focused around students’ concerns as the university housing remains closed with classes online for the remainder of the semester.

Many questions about pass/fail courses were asked. This was sparked after a petition, modeling after other colleges/universities, went around.

“We’ve talked about it, but it’s something that comes out of the faculty senate which met yesterday,” Calvo said. “I’ve been bringing that up again just so the university knows it is something that students are concerned about because we know that petition that was circulating around got about 2,000 signatures, so obviously that’s a third of the university population. That’s a big deal.” 

SGA had originally been told that the faculty senate would be addressing this again at its next meeting in two weeks; however, the group ended up voting several hours after the town hall concluded. The option to have courses become pass/fail was approved in a 16-0 vote, according to Faculty Senate Vice Chair Margarita Diaz. No further details are available yet.

Another topic that was discussed was when students would be allowed back into university housing to get their belongings. Calvo said that they do not know of an exact date yet due to the social distancing guidelines put in place for the state of Connecticut limiting the amount of people that can be in one location.

“They’re waiting until guidelines have been lifted as best as possible to move out. The university is doing their best,” Calvo said. “They know that people want to get their things, but like I said, they’re trying to follow all state, local and federal guidelines following all of this going on.”

Other students were interested in learning more about how much and when they will get refunded for housing and meal plans.

“It’s definitely something they’re aware of,” Marshall said. “They know that students, this is like one of the biggest, if not the biggest concern that students have. They are talking about it. It’s just a matter of how much or if and when really. Know that it’s very much on the radar and that they’re meeting all the time talking about that kind of stuff.”

The university previously said that seniors will get refunded and underclassmen will be credited in next year’s payments.

Quinnipiac is clearing out units in Whitney Village to house first responders who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while on the job, so they don’t bring it back home to their families. Students were not permitted to retrieve any belongings due to the social distancing guidelines.

“Facilities is going in, packing their stuff up and moving it,” Calvo said. “The university ordered boxes, which got delivered yesterday. and they went in yesterday and started packing that stuff out.”

A student also expressed concern about commencement and the senior experience. 

“As of now, the university has not made any plans to cancel commencement for any school, any group of people, so everything, as of now is still happening just a little bit later,” Calvo said.

Assistant Director of Campus Life for Student Centers and Student Involvement Hannah Cranston oversees the senior experience and commented that seniors can expect to receive an email in the coming weeks.

Some other topics that were brought up include, the university’s student care fund, plans for next fall semester, cleanliness of the university, specific SGA initiatives and elections within the organization and more.

SGA has formed a task force committee to address coronavirus related concerns that includes Calvo, Marshall, all of the class presidents and the chair of the specialized representation cabinet. Calvo said that the vice president for student experience would normally sit on this committee as well. The group meets weekly.

“It’s not like we have a lot of power to unilaterally do things on our own, but we do have the ability to reach out to administrators and talk about things,” Calvo said.

SGA will hold weekly general board meetings via Zoom every Wednesday at 4 p.m. and encourages all students to attend, as the link is posted on their Instagram page.

“We do have an outlet for you guys to express any concerns within our agenda so please take the opportunity for that if you can,” Jean-Baptiste said.